Many people will be familiar with Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB). They are the people behind The Alpha Course. Since about 2009 HTB has been active both in planting new churches and revitalising struggling churches in London. We have seen some very impressive growth in the capital.
Over recent years they have also planted new churches in many large cities, which had been able to resource other churches in the area. Hence their preferred name – resourcing churches.
This is where our diocese comes in. At the request of our bishops, HTB will be opening a significant new church in Bristol in the summer. The proposed venue is a redundant church in the old part of Bristol. The aim is that the church should open before the new university term begins in 2018.
However, I do not want to write about Bristol. Our bishops were very keen that HTB should also come to Swindon and plant a new church here.
Attendance in the Church of England in the diocese of Bristol is actually less than the national average. And, church attendance in Swindon is even lower than that.
- Nationally the figure is 1.7%.
- In the diocese of Bristol it is 1.4%
- In Swindon it is 1.0%
A town like Swindon is a new departure for HTB.
Normally, they target university towns. As their stated aim is to grow churches with between 40 to 60% of people under 30, you can see why. In Swindon of course, we have no university. The task is going to be more difficult.
The Rev Joel Sales is a young curate whose brief is church planting. HTB has something like 25 clergy on the staff operating in various churches across London. Joel is one of them.
The aim is that he should start a new church in Swindon in Christmas 2018. At the time of writing, we are not able to state exactly where that church is likely to be. This is not because no plans have been made, but rather because sensitive negotiations are ongoing.
Very significant sums of money will be spent on these two projects. Much of this is coming from the Church of England Strategic Development Initiative. It is all part of the Church of England Renewal and Reform programme. The aim is not just to fritter money away, but to significantly invest. Holy Trinity Brompton and our own diocese will also be making big commitments.
Do we really need another church?
Haven’t we got more than enough already? Experience shows that new churches make a difference.
- New churches reach more people
- New churches reach new people
- New churches release new leaders
This is an introduction to the subject. If you keep reading the bulletin of the next few weeks we will be filling you in with more details as to why this initiative is taking place, and what effect it might have on us here in Haydon Wick and on the town of Swindon.